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The new crewmen had come aboard; they had been assigned quarters, and left to get to know their new crewmates.
Frank Ransome soon left his quarters and went to look for Bill Reynolds who, he knew, had been assigned to the ship some months previously. A few questions quickly led him to Reynolds' cabin; he buzzed at the door.
Reynolds was alone, his roommate absent on duty. He looked up as Ransome entered, and his face froze. He waited in stony silence for his visitor to speak.
Ransome hesitated as he received no encouragement, no answer.
"I came to apologise, Bill."
"I accept your apology, Mr. Ransome," Reynolds said formally. "However, I would be obliged if you would restrict your contact with me to necessary duty situations." He turned to the desk viewscreen, ignoring his visitor.
Ransome looked pleadingly at him for a moment, but Reynolds kept his head resolutely turned towards the screen. Ransome bit his lip, and left.
As the door slid shut again, Reynolds raised his head, to look at the closed door. There was a deep unhappiness in his eyes.
Because of sheer alphabetical coincidence, both men ended up on the same section of the duty roster.
Almost immediately, the ship's First Officer noticed that Ransome's work was badly performed. He kept making mistakes; careless slips, none of them major, but the cumulative effect was very noticeable. Spock had a quiet word with him, pointing out what he already knew, that careless mistakes in space could cost lives - and that his own could well be one of them. He accepted the rebuke passively, and was dismissed.
Spock considered the matter once Ransome had left to return to duty. Presumably Starfleet considered the man competent, or they wouldn't have assigned him to a Starship; but...
The Vulcan's fears were justified; Ransome did not improve. He continued to make mistakes, mostly minor ones, but in Spock's opinion it would be only a matter of time before Ransome made a serious error and men died. Much as he disliked the prospect, he decided, reluctantly, that he must report Ransome to Kirk.
The new crewman stood before the Captain, his eyes lowered, waiting. But Kirk was good at waiting, too. Ransome was forced to look up. When he did, Kirk saw what Spock had not - had not because he had never seen Ransome's eyes clearly. The man's face was set in an enforced calm; but his eyes were tortured.
"What's wrong?" Kirk asked gently.
The gentleness came near to breaking Ransome. His lip quivered slightly; but still he said nothing.
"Mr. Ransome; I assume you know what the results of carelessness could be. Yet, according to Mr. Spock, you have been consistently careless since you came on board. The reports on you from the Academy indicate that you are of considerable potential. Since you have not achieved anything near that potential, I can only assume that there is something worrying you. What is it?"
Ransome hesitated a moment longer; but the need to confide in someone was very great; and Kirk seemed sympathetic, more sympathetic than he had expected the Captain to be at such an interview. He had fully expected to be torn off a strip...
"It's... a personal worry," he managed.
"It must be a pretty serious one."
With an effort, Ransome managed to control his voice. "My cousin has been on board the Enterprise for some time," he said. "Bill Reynolds. We were brought up together; we were like brothers. One day we quarrelled. It was my fault; I said something... I didn't mean it as anything but a joke, but he thought I did. I didn't realise he had taken it seriously, and when he replied, I tried to keep the joke going... Before I knew it, we were quarrelling seriously. Because I'd meant the whole thing as a joke, I refused to apologise... and by the time I realised just how serious the whole thing had become, it had gone too far...
"Bill left home. Soon after, so did I, and joined Starfleet. That was when I discovered that he had, too. My reports were good; I was able to get myself assigned to the Enterprise when I heard he was on board her. The first thing I did when I came on board was find him and apologise. He accepted the apology... but he still refuses to have anything to do with me. I realise I'm being childish, letting it worry me so much, but... "
Kirk sat silent after Ransome's voice trailed away, thinking over the man's problem. He could appreciate how Ransome felt... he had only to remember the one occasion when he and Spock had had a serious misunderstanding... and. nothing had really mattered until the misunderstanding had been cleared up.
He sent Ransome away; the crewman left, grateful for the Captain's understanding and silent sympathy, determined to try to improve, to keep his mind on his work.
After Ransome had gone, Kirk sat for a long time trying to decide what he could do to help the man. He could not approach the cousin direct; that would solve nothing, and might indeed make matters worse. One thing he could do, however. He could transfer Ransome from general duties to another department, like Security, where his current preoccupation with his problem would have a minimal effect, and that would also serve the purpose of separating the two men. A way from the immediate presence of his cousin, Ransome might find it easier to concentrate on his work.
Their first planetfall on this trip involved a check of an automatic research station, a routine chore normally performed by the Science Officer. On this occasion, Kirk decided to go himself, and take Ransome with him, both to give the man the experience and to form his own estimate of Ransome's potential.
Spock protested as soon as he learned what was in Kirk's mind.
"You can't take Ransome, Jim," he objected. "The man's not competent. How he was ever passed as fit for Starship duty I can't understand. The best thing to do with him is give him entirely routine duties and request his transfer to another class of ship at the earliest opportunity."
"I think he's got potential, Spock," Kirk said. "He had good reports. He just needs to settle down."
"Jim, he's had plenty of time to settle down. All the other new men have."
"Put it this way, then, Spock. I want to see for myself how he performs on duty. This is such a routine trip that he can't possibly do any damage, even if he's as incompetent as you think."
Spock glanced round as McCoy came in.
"Doctor, the Captain wants to take Mr. Ransome as crewman on his check of the Station. I think he is inadvised to do so. Mr. Ransome is incompetent."
McCoy scratched his head. "I'm not so sure of that, Spock. According to his profile, he is - or should be - a pretty good crewman. I get the impression there's something on his mind... something worrying him."
"Have you considered the possibility that he has discovered he's afraid of being in space?" Spock asked.
"That attitude's well-tested," McCoy retorted. "It's unlikely."
"I think I should give him a chance," Kirk cut in. "If I am to recommend him for transfer, as Spock suggests, I have to have some concrete reason to offer. I can't just say, 'Mr. Spock doesn't think he's any use,' I have to give my reasons." He looked from one to the other. "This is so routine, he can't go wrong."
"How about taking one of the more experienced men too?" McCoy suggested.
Kirk hesitated. "No," he said at last. "If I'm going to test him, I'd rather do it alone."
Kirk left Ransome to pilot the shuttle, while he sat back and watched, but said nothing. They could of course have beamed down, but Kirk had decided that if they took the shuttlecraft, it would give him a better opportunity of judging Ransome.
The take-off was smooth - as smooth as any Kirk had ever experienced, and the shuttle began to drop down gently towards the planet.
Ransome was good as a shuttlecraft pilot, Kirk decided. It was the smoothest ride he had had for a while. The only shuttle pilot Kirk knew that he felt was better was Spock... and Ransome came close to being as good.
They dropped lower... lower, and touched down so gently that for a moment Kirk didn't realise they were down.
"Well done, Mr. Ransome," he said. "Now - tell me what we do next."
Ransome began to go over the drill. He certainly knew the theory, Kirk thought. If the problem of the cousin could only be resolved, Ransome would be an excellent crewman.
"Right, Mr. Ransome," Kirk said when the man had run over all the landing procedure. "Now; we have pre-recorded data to collect. What is the drill for that?"
"We take the recorded tapes," Ransome replied. "Check that all moving parts of the automatic recorders are moving freely and are clean; put in fresh tapes."
"Good, Mr. Ransome. Let's go and do it."
Ransome pressed the button to open the door; nothing happened. He pressed it again; still nothing. He glanced at Kirk, puzzled.
"Try over-ride, Mr. Ransome," Kirk suggested.
Ransome obeyed; the door began reluctantly to open. As soon as it was open a fraction, sand began to spill in through the crack.
"Shut it!" Kirk snapped.
Ransome obeyed and looked back at Kirk. "What's happened, sir?"
Kirk's lips set grimly. "There are a lot of quicksands on this planet, Mr. Ransome. We've landed in one - no, it wasn't your fault, don't go thinking you've made another mistake. You'd no way of knowing. But we've sunk under the surface by now; and there's no way a signal can get through to the ship... and no way the ship's sensors can find us."
Spock, sitting in the command chair, fretted as he thought of Kirk, going down with an incompetent green hand. Academically, he decided, Kirk was right; he did have to make a personal judgement on Ransome before making any recommendations on his future. But he should have taken someone experienced as well! No indication of his thoughts showed on his face... but he was aware of a growing tenseness inside him. Kirk's routine report, indicating planetfall, was overdue... by at least half a minute...
The half minute dragged into a full minute... two... three...
Spock glanced at Uhura. "Lieutenant, contact the Captain. His call-in is somewhat overdue."
"Aye, sir... Mr. Spock! I can't raise the shuttlecraft!"
Spock was on his feet instantly. "Take over, Mr. Sulu. Lieutenant, have Dr. McCoy meet me in the transporter room immediately." His departure left the bridge crew feeling as if a hurricane had just whirled through the place - even though he had not seemed to hurry.
Spock and McCoy beamed down to beside the automatic station. There was no sign of the shuttlecraft... no sign of any living being other than themselves. Even the station buildings were semi-buried in drifted sand, looking as if they were part of the natural surroundings.
Spock swung his tricorder round.
"Nothing," he said simply.
"But... Spock, where can they be?"
Spock's mouth set in a grim line. "Captain Kirk planned to allow Mr. Ransome to pilot and navigate," he said. "In theory, nothing could have gone wrong. In practice, I believe that Mr. Ransome was not able to do something as simple as that... and has made a mistake in navigation, and landed somewhere else... and this is the most stable part of the planet's surface. If the shuttle has landed somewhere else, it would inevitably land in a quicksand... sink in, out of sight - out of reach of our sensors..."
"How could that happen?" McCoy asked.
"All Ransome would need to do would be to transpose two numbers in his landing co-ordinates," Spock said grimly. "And that is a very easy mistake to make. Even I have occasionally done so in a first check."
"If that did happen... how long would they have?"
"Not very long," Spock replied. "Life support in a shuttle is limited in time; but even more important is the heat. A shuttle is equipped with heaters, but not with refrigeration units. And it will get very hot, buried under the sand."
In the shuttlecraft, Kirk would have seconded Spock's comment enthusiastically. It was already getting hot; and a quick check showed that someone on the Enterprise had been careless when he last checked the shuttle's supplies. There was almost no water aboard.
He looked again at Ransome's guilty face. "Don't blame yourself," he said again.
"Mr. Spock was right," Ransome muttered inconsolably. "I am incompetent. If it wasn't for my carelessness, you wouldn't be here now."
Kirk moved over, and checked over Ransome's calculations.
"No, Mr. Ransome. There's no error. If I had been piloting, we would have landed in exactly the same place. There are quicksands near the station; we are in one of them, within a couple of hundred yards of the station. There is nothing wrong with either your navigation or your piloting."
Ransome looked gratefully at him as they settled back in their seats.
"Better take things easy, Mr. Ransome... it's going to get hotter, and we don't have enough water. The man I am going to haul over the coals for this is the one who should have made sure the water container was full, and didn't."
"You think we'll get back, sir?"
"If we don't, it won't be for lack of the desire to find us," Kirk replied confidently.
The desire to find them was overwhelming... but knowledge of where to look was woefully lacking. Spock returned to the ship with McCoy, and initiated a sensor scan; a search, both for the shuttle, and for any sign of recent disturbance to the surface of any of the quicksands; a search that was to be concentrated on areas with co-ordinates similar to those of the landing site, or with the same co-ordinate numbers arranged differently.
"Do you really think the surface will show any sign of disturbance?" McCoy asked.
Spock shook his head. "No," he said quietly. "But we must try any possibility, no matter how slight."
In the shuttlecraft, it was getting hotter. Sweat poured off both men; but Kirk still insisted on saving the meagre few drops of water that were on board.
"We'll need it more yet," he said.
There was a hissing sound from the engine compartment. Both men looked up sharply.
"It shouldn't do that, sir - should it?"
"No. It shouldn't," Kirk said. He got up to go across to the panel to examine it; half way there, he was stopped by the force of the explosion that ripped. the panel apart. He was flung back against Ransome, whose body broke his fall and who was protected from serious injury by Kirk's body. A piece of burning hot metal ripped into Kirk's shoulder; another pierced his leg. The heat in the enclosed space suddenly increased, becoming almost unbearable.
Ransome bent over Kirk anxiously, hardly feeling the pain where a third piece of metal had gashed his arm. Kirk tried to smile at him.
"Not too bad, Mr. Ransome," he said. "Are you hurt?"
"No," Ransome replied.
Kirk's gaze was fixed on Ransome's arm. "What about that?" he gasped.
"It's nothing," Ransome assured him. He reached for the metal protruding from Kirk's leg, and pulled it free with a sharp tug. Kirk caught his breath at the pain.
Ransome left Kirk's side, went to where the shuttle's first-aid kit should have been - and discovered that it was missing too. He was aware of anger. He had been accused of carelessness and incompetence for much less than this - but this really was carelessness. Someone had left the shuttle very badly under-equipped.
He moved over to get some water. The Captain would need it badly.
But there was none. Yet another scrap of shattered metal had punctured the container, and the minimal supply of water they had had was irretrievably lost.
Spock was beginning to feel irritated. McCoy was haunting the bridge, pacing round and round restlessly in a way he would have criticised in anyone else as being pointless; and McCoy's worry and restlessness was beginning to communicate itself to Spock. But he felt it would be cruel to banish McCoy to sickbay. Although there was nothing he could do here, on the bridge, he was at least seeing all that was being done - no matter how unsettling his behaviour was to the Vulcan. There were occasionally disadvantages to having such a close relationship as he had with McCoy - and Kirk - when you were telepathic.
If only it were possible to have a permanent telepathic link with Jim, so that circumstances like this could never arise. He forced his mind away from the impossible temptation of the thought and back to the sensors.
It must be getting very hot in the shuttlecraft now; could that be used to help them find it? He initiated a heat scan.
It didn't help. There were too many places that were hotter than they should have been. He looked blindly past McCoy, who moved to him, stood silently at his side. He looked at the doctor. The near-telepathic awareness of their friendship worked both ways, he realised. McCoy knew full well how worried he was getting.
In the shuttle, Ransome returned to Kirk, who had by now pulled himself on to one of the seats, and was making an effort to stop the bleeding of his leg and shoulder.
"There's no medical kit," Ransome reported. "And all the water's gone too, sir." He stripped off his shirt and ripped it into strips, using them to bind Kirk's wounds as best he could. The leg injury wasn't too serious, he decided, but the shoulder one was nasty, if only because the scrap of metal was still embedded in the flesh, and Ransome's limited medical knowledge did not include the treatment of serious injuries, or the removal of foreign bodies from wounds. And Kirk had lost more blood than Ransome liked to think of; which would have been serious anyway, but with the lack of water, was aggravated.
They were no longer sweating. There was no longer moisture enough in their bodies to permit them to sweat. All they could do now was sit back and wait in the increasing heat for rescue - or death. Privately, Ransome was sure that it would be death; and he determined that when they were found, he would be seen to have died as bravely as the Captain... if their bodies were ever found. He was beginning to understand just what it was that made the crew of the Enterprise so fond of Kirk, work so hard for him. Even the self-possessed Vulcan adored Kirk, according to mess gossip. It would have been so easy for Kirk to have lost his temper, blamed Ransome for landing them in this mess... instead, he had reassured him, assured him that they had landed in the right place. Had they really come to the right place? Had Kirk just been being kind? He might never know... but of one thing he was certain. If they did get out of this alive, he was Kirk's man till death...
He checked the Captain's condition again. Kirk's eyes were shut; there was a flushed look about him, but Ransome couldn't be sure how much of that was due to the heat in the shuttle and how much was due to the effects of his injuries. Then Kirk moaned, and muttered something, and Ransome realised that Kirk was suffering from the effects of his wounds and also probably from shock. But there was nothing he could do.
He went back to the punctured water container to see if by any outside chance a few drops had survived the holing; but he had been right the first time. There was no water left.
He returned to Kirk's side. The Captain was moving restlessly now; Ransome tried to hold him still, pillowing his head on his shoulder, murmuring soothingly to him...
It didn't take long for word to get all round the Enterprise about the loss of the shuttlecraft with Kirk and Ransome. Reynolds heard about it fairly quickly, and was surprised at the feeling of shock the news gave him; greater even than on the day he still hated to be reminded of, when he and Frank had first quarrelled. He felt guilty now. He could have been more generous to his cousin when he apologised... it wasn't as if the original cause of their quarrel had even been all that serious, really - and just what was happening? His informant could give him no news other than that the shuttle was missing...
He was currently off duty. He headed for the bridge, a little nervously as he considered his temerity, but he had to get more information...
He found Spock strangely sympathetic - more so than he had ever thought a Vulcan could be - once he had explained the reason for his interest. Spock told him exactly what they had done, what they were doing, and why, and that nothing they had thought of was producing any results.
A faint memory stirred deep in the recesses of Reynolds' mind. A craft buried in quicksand... Where had he heard something like that before? Of course - in that old story!
"Mr. Spock - years ago, I came across an old story... written in the early days when space travel was still experimental. In it, a small ship was buried in sand on the Moon. The searchers found the ship because the heat from it caused the sand above it to move."
Spock stared. at him. "That is worth considering, Mr. Reynolds," he admitted. He glanced at Chekov, still scanning the surface.
"Check for movement of the surface of the sand, Mr. Chekov."
They waited in silence that seemed to echo threateningly in their ears while Chekov continued his scan. At last, Chekov exclaimed, "There is some movement, Mr. Spock. In a quicksand just beside the station."
Spock moved quickly to the scanner, checked for himself.
"There is definitely something there," he agreed.
"But... how can we get down to it?" Chekov asked.
Spock frowned, punched the intercom button on the command chair.
"Spock to transporter room. Can you pick up anything at these co-ordinates?" He gave them.
A short silence. "Negative, sir."
In the shuttle, Ransome was getting desperately worried. The Captain was unconscious now, definitely unconscious even although he was muttering hoarsely in delirium, The only words Ransome could make out clearly were, "Spock... Bones, help Spock..." What was Kirk dreaming about in his fever? His own arm was getting painful and beginning to look swollen. Of course, he thought, the metal must have been dirty, and while the heat in it would help to kill off a lot of bacteria, some, the toughest strains, would have survived to infect them both. Kirk must have been affected first because the shoulder wound was deep and the infection would have got into his blood stream quickly. His own arm injury was superficial at best, compared to Kirk's two wounds, but from the angry inflammation it now showed, it wouldn't remain superficial much longer.
If only it wasn't so hot...
Spock looked at Reynolds. "In that story you read, how were the crew of the ship rescued? Or weren't they?"
"Oh, they were rescued. The rescuers... I'm not sure... they lowered planks of some sort into the sand to hold it back, then dug out the sand in the bit they had enclosed."
"That would take much longer then the time we have available," Spock commented.
McCoy nodded. "According to my calculations, they have not more than forty minutes before the heat reaches the point where it will kill them."
"I estimate thirty eight point nine minutes," Spock agreed. He glanced round the bridge. The crew was watching him. This was the burden of command, the crew's dependence on their Captain - or their acting Captain - to solve their problems - but this was his problem, not theirs. Jim... he had to find some way of getting Jim out of there... for his own sake, for Jim's sake... He felt McCoy's hand on his shoulder, comforting and strengthening him.
"Tractor beams!" he said sharply. He glanced at Scotty, currently occupying the engineering station - a duty he normally delegated to an underling. The fact that he had felt it incumbent on him to remain on the bridge was eloquent. "Mr. Scott. Lock a tractor beam onto the area where there is the turbulence in the sand; try to lift the sand away long enough for us to attempt to reach the shuttle with the transporter beams."
An observer on the surface would have been startled - and possible impressed - by the fountain of sand that rose from the surface a few seconds later. It rose... and rose... and rose...
Loose sand flowed from around it into the space it left.
"It's not working, Mr. Spock!" Scotty exclaimed. "The sand's too soft; it's flowing like water, replacing itself as fast as I can get it away. And the quicksand beds are so big that it'll take years to get it all away."
"We do not have years, Mr. Scott. We now have thirty five point three minutes."
"That's what I'm trying to say, Mr. Spock. We just don't have long enough."
"I cannot accept that, Mr. Scott."
McCoy said desperately, "If we can't lift the stuff away, could we blow it away with deflector beams?"
Spock glanced at Scotty.
"I'll try it," Scotty said. He flicked switches.
The imaginary observer would, this time, have seen a spreading fountain with a raised circle of sand round it, a raised circle that rapidly tried to resume the natural level of the ground around it, flowing back into its hole as fast as it could...
It was getting increasingly difficult to breathe; Ransome found himself envying Kirk his unconsciousness. He no longer considered rescue; he didn't even think that they would ever be found. The shuttle was probably still sinking deeper and deeper into the sandy bog. He closed his eyes. He wanted to sleep... if this was dying, it was strangely pleasant... and very peaceful... just like sleep...
Uhura turned from her station. "Mr. Spock! Transporter room reports... they've got the Captain and Mr. Ransome... They're hurt, sir."
Spock glanced at McCoy, but the surgeon was already half-way to the elevator, with Reynolds just behind him.
Spock, though just as anxious as the Humans, controlled it better, and moved down to sickbay at a more leisurely pace.
Ransome was barely conscious; Reynolds stood at his side. But Spock wasn't particularly interested in Ransome at this moment. He headed for the bed where McCoy was working over Kirk.
McCoy didn't even glance up as Spock joined him. He was busily probing the injured shoulder for the minute scraps oŁ metal that the scanner told him were still embedded there. Spock watched silently.
At last McCoy looked up. "All we can do now is wait," he said. "I don't know what happened, but I reckon there must have been an explosion - "
"There was," Ransome said from the other bed. "The Captain was nearer it than I was. I couldn't do anything because there wasn't any medical kit on board - there wasn't much water either, and the container got holed anyway and we lost what there was."
Spock moved over to him. "What exactly happened when you landed, Mr. Ransome?"
"The Captain went over landing procedures with me. All the screens were down - he was checking that I knew what I was doing. When we tried to open the door we discovered that we were in the quicksand. The Captain checked my calculations, and said that he would probably have landed us in the same place. Then the engine started hissing and exploded."
Spock nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Ransome." McCoy left Kirk and came over to tend Ransome's arm; Spock silently resumed his position at Kirk's side.
"You can go," McCoy told Ransome at last. "Take it easy for the next twenty-four hours."
"Yes, Doctor." Ransome sat up; Reynolds reached to help him.
"Come on, Frank."
They went out together. Before they were out the door, McCoy had forgotten them.
The sedative that McCoy had given Kirk while he operated had worn off now; Kirk was muttering again. Spock bent over him.
"Jim... You're all right, Jim..." McCoy shook his head slightly as he listened. Jim was not all right. He had lost by far too much blood and sweat to be all right.
He and Spock had shared several uneasy watches at Kirk's side in the past, but to McCoy this was to remain in his memory as one of the worst. He felt completely helpless - not a new sensation, every doctor experienced it frequently, the moment when he had done all he could and the rest depended on the patient's strength and will to live. The will to live was there, but - on this occasion - was the strength?
The slow hours passed... Spock remained with McCoy at Kirk's side apart from a few brief moments when he ordered his immediate subordinate in the science department to beam down to get the results from the station, and then ordered the ship on to her next planetfall.
Kirk's muttering became more and more incoherent. McCoy glanced at Spock.
"No, Doctor," Spock said quietly, guessing what McCoy's request, would be. "I could reach his mind, but there is little point when his delirium is caused by his fever."
McCoy nodded. "I know, Spock. I wasn't going to ask you that. I was just thinking... Ransome wasn't responsible for what happened, was he?"
"Apparently not.. and he most certainly wasn't responsible for the lack of medical kit and water in the shuttle. Who checks the shuttle medikits?"
"Usually one of the junior nurses - not always the same one." McCoy's lips tightened. "And when I find out which one took a kit out without bothering to log the fact, I'll - "
"Why would a kit be taken out, Doctor?"
"If there were a fair number of missing items to be replaced, the kit would be taken out for a thorough check. But I should be given a note of which kits these are. I thought my staff had got that well into their heads."
Beside them, Kirk moaned. Both swung back to him. His eyes were open, but there was no recognition in the look he gave them.
"Ransome?" he muttered.
"He's O.K., Jim," McCoy said reassuringly.
Kirk looked straight at him. "Bones?"
"We're both here, Jim."
Kirk's glance moved past McCoy and stopped. "Spock."
"Yes. You were right, Jim. Ransome wasn't at fault this time."
Kirk seemed to be struggling with a memory. "Did anyone on the ship ask about Ransome?"
Spock nodded. "His cousin."
"Good," Kirk said. "I don't think Ransome will make any more mistakes now..." His eyes drooped shut.
McCoy glanced at Spock. "He'll be all right," he said. "He's sleeping naturally now."
"Then I will return to duty," Spock said. He paused at the door to look back at the sleeping Kirk. Who would went a command of his own when he could serve under this man? he wondered. It was all he wanted... to remain with Kirk.
It was with a lighter heart that he left sickbay to make his way back to the bridge.